Mississippi defenders strategize for a post-Roe world – .

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Mississippi defenders strategize for a post-Roe world – .


JACKSON, Mississippi – As the United States Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday over overturning a nearly 50-year precedent on abortion rights, a young woman wearing a “Bans off my body ”approached a white poster at a hotel in downtown Jackson. ballroom.

Several members and supporters of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition had jotted down messages on a series of pink, blue and orange sticky notes – what they would tell the judges.

“I remember having to go to Cuba or Sweden to have an abortion. Not yet. “

“Protect black women”.

She added the latest in pink ink on a neon green note:

“Understand the power you hold and the real lives it affects. “

The racially diverse group gathered around linen-covered tables in the Westin were only miles from the state’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, whose lawyers were in Washington court on Wednesday morning. It was clear to many in the ballroom that the ability of Mississippi patients to obtain abortions – and, indeed, the fate of abortion rights across the country – hinged on the pending decision.

Members of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition were not optimistic that the Supreme Court would rule in their favor next year. Instead, they were bracing for more restrictions in a state where it is already difficult to have an abortion.

“We’re not going underground,” said Valencia Robinson, executive director of Mississippi in Action, which advocates for people living with HIV and provides sexual health education. She and others said they were already working to mobilize supporters who could help transport to Jackson’s clinic and help overcome financial barriers that often hamper access to abortion.

Abortion rights advocate Valencia Robinson applauds at a rally in Jackson. Rory Doyle pour NBC News

A 2018 Mississippi law broadly banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy set the stage for this moment. The restrictions, which were overturned by lower courts and never enforced, defy the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, who enshrined the right to abortion before fetal viability, or the stage at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. Medical experts say the benchmark is between 23 and 24 weeks, well past the point where Mississippi seeks to restrict access. In arguing for the law, Mississippi asks the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Neighboring Louisiana is one of many states with trigger laws that would make abortion largely illegal if the landmark 1973 ruling falls. Lakeesha Harris, an activist from Louisiana who traveled to Jackson to speak at an abortion rights rally on Wednesday, reminded the crowd that the consequences of what started as a restriction on the level of the state of Mississippi do not exist in a silo.

“It affects Louisiana,” she said. “It affects Texas. Oppression knows no border of state lines.

Wednesday’s oral arguments made it clear that the overlapping barriers – both legislative and cultural – that had left Mississippi as the only Deep South state with a single abortion clinic were not contained within the borders of the United States. State.

“As the rest of the country prepares to feel what it’s like to be in Mississippi… we still live in a post-Roe climate,” said Michelle Colon, member of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition who founded SHERo Mississippi. , a reproductive justice collective led by black women. “If you only have one clinic, that’s a huge barrier to access.

The night before members of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition convene to listen to Supreme Court arguments that could dismantle Roe v. Wade, abortion rights opponents came to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization to pray for this outcome.

“This case tomorrow could make Mississippi the first domino to fall,” said Steve Karlen, campaign manager for 40 Days for Life, a nonprofit that runs annual vigils against abortion.

A speaker shared his dream that the “Pink House”, as the establishment is known for its pastel hue, would become a church.

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